‘Mockingbird’ sets example

To the editor:

I saw an article recently that said “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee is America’s favorite book. I have to admit it’s one of my favorite stories, although I’ve only seen the movie. What’s amazing about the story is that there’s an injustice, and then there’s a really good man, who, with calmness and wisdom, finds a way to combat that injustice. It’s not a happy story, in that others who are not as calm take justice into their own hands. But it’s still a story that we hold close and use to say it’s important to have justice, to have calm, thoughtful people in our communities. Maybe an unrecognized piece of the ability of Atticus Finch to talk down the mob who are trying to lynch the African-American prisoner, is the role of the farmer friend, Mr. Cunningham. “Hey Mr. Cunningham,” Atticus’s daughter Scout says, “You remember me,” and she points out to him that they have a relationship, they are neighbors, and that her father has always treated the farmer with respect and treated the son of the farmer with respect.

This is the model for our times. The times are difficult, and what one hopes for may not be accomplished in the short term. But, calm, wise individuals are needed, individuals who build bridges and friendships over decades with their neighbors, and maybe even with neighbors who are not so friendly, like Mrs. Dubose.

Meeting neighbors, listening, using respectful language — that’s how communities are built. And I think that’s why “To Kill a Mockingbird” is, and should be, America’s favorite.